Public Service Commission schedules wind farm hearing

A public hearing with the North Dakota Public Service Commission has been scheduled in New England for the proposed wind farm in Hettinger and Stark counties. The hearing for Brady Wind II, LLC (Brady) will take place on Tuesday, June 7, at Memorial Hall at 9 a.m. MST, according to a filing with the PSC.

By COLE BENZ
Herald Editor

Wind farm in California
File Photo

A public hearing with the North Dakota Public Service Commission has been scheduled in New England for the proposed wind farm in Hettinger and Stark counties. The hearing for Brady Wind II, LLC (Brady) will take place on Tuesday, June 7, at Memorial Hall at 9 a.m. MST, according to a filing with the PSC.

The original application was filed with the PCS on Jan. 22, 2016, and the project has brought both supporters and detractors. At a special meeting of the zoning and planning board of Hettinger County last month, people from both sides of the issue were given an opportunity to speak, and they’ll get another chance in June.

The PSC makes a concerted effort to give people their turn at the podium, as evident by the 15-hour hearing for the Brady I Wind project in Stark County that took place in Dickinson.

“The public service commission absolutely does not limit public comment at our hearing,” Kalk said.

This will be the last opportunity for residents, or the company, to speak on the record regarding the project.

“When we open up a hearing, that is the official record which we can base our decisions on,” Kalk said. “If people want to have their comment be a part of the official record that we can base our decisions on, they need to come to the hearing and say their peace.”

He emphasized that phone calls and emails won’t be on the official record, a person needs to be present at the hearing.

“To be part of our decision process people have to come to the hearing to testify,” he said.

Following the hearing, the three commissioners will deliberate, and vote whether to approve or not approve the state siting certificate. Assuming the commission has all of the necessary information to render a decision, deliberations could range from 30 days to six months, though Kalk said a six-month deliberation isn’t typical.

The PCS does have the power to not approve the permit. But Kalk, speaking on behalf of himself and not the entire commission, said he has seen where companies just need to make some adjustments to their plan before getting approval.

Kalk also pointed out that aside from county and PSC approval, many times these projects require approvals from other agencies too, such as those regarding environmental issues.

According to a representative of the company, this is the last approval NextEra Energy needs to erect the 72 turbine, 150 megawatt energy center.

The PSC monitors the wind farm for the entirety of the project, including decommissioning the turbines.

“We’re involved in the life of these projects,” Kalk said.

He said monitoring the projects include post-construction inspections, and constant follow-up on required duties after the project. For example, if a project calls for re-planting vegetation, the PSC will monitor that.

If the permit is approved, it will be formally put through the system at the next scheduled, official PSC meeting.

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